Monday, October 7, 2013

Readiness Self-Audit

As I write, the government is currently shut down, or at least 17 percent of it is.  I'm not going to turn this blog into a political one, but I am going to suggest that this is a good reminder to do a readiness self-audit.

Whether you consider yourself a "prepper" or not, it is a good idea to periodically take stock of your dependence on outside resources and construct a plan for making do with less.  This is not an instant fix; instead, think of it as a way to check in with yourself.  Find the problems in your preparation, then try to fix them and see where you are in 6 months.

1.  Income:  You don't need to be on the government payroll to experience a sudden drop in income.  Mr. FC&G and I are both self-employed, and we experience the end of a major project or the loss of a client fairly regularly.  Go through your income streams now (don't forget interest, dividends, part-time jobs, etc.) and see where you are most vulnerable.  Try to come up with alternate income streams that may be more insulated from the threats that could harm your main income.  For example, we have two etsy stores (Carrot Creations and Cucumber Key) that won't make us rich, but that aren't in our primary vertical industries of copywriting and manufacturing.

2.  Outflow:  Take a top-line view of your expenditures, and rank what you would omit first, second, third, etc., if your income was cut.  As I mentioned, we have done this sort of thing so regularly that we don't even have to have a discussion to know that a slowdown in income means no more dinners out, no recreational shopping, and more meals that stretch the meat and rely on vegetables from the garden.

3.  Make it yourself:  As you run out of things or pay bills this week, ask yourself what you could make yourself and what is "mission critical."  To take an example, I know that if our income is cut, I will be baking any cookies and treats we want to eat.  However, I can't make fluoride toothpaste, so that remains on the mission critical list.  I know that I can heat the house in the fall with the wood stove, but I also know that I need to shut off a few rooms in order to maximize the heating we get out of the wood we've cut.

4.  Plan to DIY:  The companion to making things yourself is to be prepared to do so.  I know that I will occasionally try to save money by baking most of our baked goods, so I stock up on organic flour when it is on special, and Mr. FC&G gets pastured eggs at an inexpensive location near one of his clients.  I also freeze organic butter if I've picked up a couple of extra pounds.  What can you stock up on when you're feeling flush that will help you weather a storm.

5.  Be proud:  Once you complete your audit, don't let yourself think of periodic downturns as deprivation or as something you shouldn't have to suffer.  These things stink, but it is great to know how self-sufficient you can be.  Be proud of taking charge of your life when things are tough, and the good times should be smooth sailing!
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